|Publication number||US6890847 B1|
|Application number||US 09/507,964|
|Publication date||May 10, 2005|
|Filing date||Feb 22, 2000|
|Priority date||Feb 22, 2000|
|Also published as||US20050029663, US20060261484|
|Publication number||09507964, 507964, US 6890847 B1, US 6890847B1, US-B1-6890847, US6890847 B1, US6890847B1|
|Inventors||Paul A. Farrar|
|Original Assignee||Micron Technology, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (98), Non-Patent Citations (20), Referenced by (7), Classifications (34), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates generally to development and fabrication of integrated circuits, and in particular to insulation techniques using polynorbornene foam as an insulating material in the development and fabrication of integrated circuits, as well as apparatus making use of such integrated circuits.
To meet demands for faster processors and higher capacity memories, integrated circuit (IC) designers are focusing on decreasing the minimum feature size within integrated circuits. By minimizing the feature size within an integrated circuit, device density on an individual chip increases exponentially, as desired, enabling designers to meet the demands imposed on them. As the minimum feature size in semiconductor integrated circuits decreases, however, capacitive coupling between adjacent conductive layers is becoming problematic. In particular, for example, capacitive coupling between metal lines in the metallization level of integrated circuits limits the minimum feature size that is operatively achievable.
One attempt to minimize the problem of capacitive coupling between metal lines involves utilizing a relatively low dielectric constant material to insulate the metal lines. Conventionally, silicon dioxide (SiO2), having a dielectric constant of about 4.0∈o (wherein ∈o is the permittivity of free space), is used as the insulating material in integrated circuits. To date, the minimum dielectric constant possible, however, is generally that of air, the dielectric constant being approximately 1.0∈o. Nevertheless, the use of air as an insulating material, such as provided using an air bridge, has drawbacks. For example, integrated circuit structures utilizing air insulation lack mechanical strength and protection from their environment. SiO2 and air have been utilized together in an inorganic, porous silica xerogel film in order to incorporate both the mechanical strength of SiO2 and the low dielectric constant of air. In this manner, SiO2 behaves as a matrix for porous structures containing air. However, porous silica xerogel film has a tendency to absorb water during processing. The water absorbed during processing is released during aging, resulting in cracking and a pulling away of the porous silica xerogel film from the substrate on which it is applied.
Even when nonporous SiO2 is utilized, as the minimum feature size within an integrated circuit decreases, significant stress develops at the interface between the SiO2 and metal on which SiO2 is commonly formed, causing potentially detrimental disruptions in the electrical performance of the integrated circuit. For example, the stress may be great enough to rupture a metal line adjacent to the SiO2 insulating layer. Such stress develops from the large difference in the coefficient of thermal expansion between that of SiO2 and that of the metal. The coefficient of thermal expansion of SiO2 is about 0.5 μm/m° C. to about 3.0 μm/m° C. The coefficient of thermal expansion of Type 295.0 aluminum, an alloy similar in composition to the aluminum alloys commonly used in the metallization level of an integrated circuit, is about 23 μm/m° C. The coefficient of thermal expansion for aluminum is significantly higher than that of SiO2. Likewise, the coefficient of thermal expansion of Type C81100 copper, an alloy similar in composition to a copper alloy which may also be used in integrated circuit metallization layers, is about 16.9 μm/m° C., also significantly higher than that of SiO2. The metallization layer's larger coefficient of thermal expansion results in its absorption of all of the strain caused by the large difference in the coefficients of thermal expansion upon heating and cooling. The result of such strain absorption is that the metallization layer is placed in tension and the SiO2 layer is placed under slight compression. The high compressive yield strength of SiO2 prevents its rupture. In contrast, the relatively low tensile yield strength of the metallization layer promotes its rupture, leading to integrated circuit failure.
It has also been reported that certain polymeric materials have dielectric constants less than that of SiO2. For example, polyimides are known to have a dielectric constant of about 2.8∈o to about 3.5∈o. The use of polyimides in the metallization level of integrated circuits is also known.
Others have reported that foaming (i.e., introducing air into) polymeric material results in a material having a dielectric constant of about 1.2∈o to about 1.8∈o. The exact dielectric constant of such foamed polymers depends on the percentage of voids (e.g., air) present and the dielectric constant of the polymeric material that was foamed. The use of such foamed polymers, however, has been limited to electronic packaging applications and multichip module applications for microwave substrates. Multichip module processing is not suitable for use in semiconductor fabrication because in multichip module processing, a metal insulator “sandwich” is formed as a unit and is then applied to a surface. Due to the oftentimes uneven topographies at the metallization level of an integrated circuit, each of the metal layer and the insulation layer need to be formed separately, allowing them to conform to the underlying topography.
For the reasons stated above, and for other reasons stated below which will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading and understanding the present specification, there is a need in the art for alternative insulating materials and methods of their use in an integrated circuit.
The invention includes methods of providing foamed polynorbornene insulating material for use with an integrated circuit device, as well as apparatus and systems making use of such foamed polynorbornene insulating materials. The methods include forming a layer of polynorbornene material and converting at least a portion of the layer of polynorbornene material to a foamed polynorbornene material, such as by exposing the layer of polynorbornene material to a supercritical fluid. The foamed polynorbornene material can provide electrical insulation between conductive layers of the integrated circuit device.
For one embodiment, the invention includes a method of forming an insulating material for use in an integrated circuit. The method includes forming a layer of polynorbornene material on a substrate and converting at least a portion of the layer of polynorbornene material to a foamed polynorbornene material.
For another embodiment, the invention includes a method of forming an insulating material for use in an integrated circuit. The method includes forming a layer of polynorbornene material on a substrate, saturating the layer of polynorbornene material with a fluid at or above the critical point of the fluid in a process chamber, and depressurizing the process chamber, thereby converting at least a portion of the layer of polynorbornene material to a foamed polynorbornene material.
For a further embodiment, the invention includes a method of forming a portion of an integrated circuit device. The method includes forming an active area in a substrate, forming a layer of polynorbornene material overlying the active area, saturating the layer of polynorbornene material with a fluid at or above the critical point of the fluid in a process chamber, and depressurizing the process chamber, thereby converting at least a portion of the layer of polynorbornene material to a foamed polynorbornene material. The method further includes patterning the foamed polynorbornene material to expose portions of the foamed polynorbornene material, etching the exposed portions of the foamed polynorbornene material to form a contact hole to the active area, and forming a conductive layer in the contact hole.
For a still further embodiment, the invention includes a method of forming a portion of an integrated circuit device. The method includes forming a first conductive layer, forming a layer of polynorbornene material on the first conductive layer, saturating the layer of polynorbornene material with a fluid at or above the critical point of the fluid in a process chamber, and depressurizing the process chamber, thereby converting at least a portion of the layer of polynorborene material to a foamed polynorbornene material. The method further includes removing a portion of the foamed polynorbornene material to form at least one via to the first conductive layer and forming a second conductive layer in the at least one via to couple to the first conductive layer.
For yet another embodiment, the invention includes a semiconductor die. The semiconductor die includes an integrated circuit supported by a substrate and having a plurality of integrated circuit devices, and two or more conductive layers coupled to the plurality of integrated circuit devices. A first conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers is electrically insulated from a second conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers by a foamed polynorbornene material.
For one embodiment, the invention includes a memory device. The memory device includes an array of memory cells, a row access circuit coupled to the array of memory cells, a column access circuit coupled to the array of memory cells, an address decoder circuit coupled to the row access circuit and the column access circuit, and two or more conductive layers coupled to one or more of the array of memory cells, the address decoder circuit, the row access circuit and the column access circuit. A first conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers is electrically insulated from a second conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers by a foamed polynorbornene material.
For another embodiment, the invention includes a memory module. The memory module includes a support, a plurality of leads extending from the support, a command link coupled to at least one of the plurality of leads, a plurality of data links, wherein each data link is coupled to at least one of the plurality of leads, and at least one memory device contained on the support and coupled to the command link. The memory device includes an array of memory cells, a row access circuit coupled to the array of memory cells, a column access circuit coupled to the array of memory cells, an address decoder circuit coupled to the row access circuit and the column access circuit, and two or more conductive layers coupled to one or more of the array of memory cells, the address decoder circuit, the row access circuit and the column access circuit. A first conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers is electrically insulated from a second conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers by a foamed polynorbornene material.
For yet another embodiment, the invention includes a memory system. The memory system includes a controller, a command link coupled to the controller, a data link coupled to the controller, and a memory device coupled to the command link and the data link. The memory device includes an array of memory cells, a row access circuit coupled to the array of memory cells, a column access circuit coupled to the array of memory cells, an address decoder circuit coupled to the row access circuit and the column access circuit, and two or more conductive layers coupled to one or more of the array of memory cells, the address decoder circuit, the row access circuit and the column access circuit. A first conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers is electrically insulated from a second conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers by a foamed polynorbornene material.
For a still further embodiment, the invention includes an electronic system. The electronic system includes a processor and a circuit module having a plurality of leads coupled to the processor. The circuit module includes a semiconductor die coupled to the plurality of leads. The semiconductor die includes an integrated circuit supported by a substrate and having a plurality of integrated circuit devices, and two or more conductive layers coupled to the plurality of integrated circuit devices. A first conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers is electrically insulated from a second conductive layer of the two or more conductive layers by a foamed polynorbornene material.
Further embodiments of the invention include semiconductor structures and methods of varying scope, as well as apparatus, devices, modules and systems making use of such semiconductor structures and methods.
In the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the inventions may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that process, electrical or mechanical changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. The terms wafer and substrate used in the following description include any base semiconductor structure. Both are to be understood as including silicon-on-sapphire (SOS) technology, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, thin film transistor (TFT) technology, doped and undoped semiconductors, epitaxial layers of a silicon supported by a base semiconductor structure, as well as other semiconductor structures well known to one skilled in the art. Furthermore, when reference is made to a wafer or substrate in the following description, previous process steps may have been utilized to form regions/junctions in the base semiconductor structure, and terms wafer or substrate include the underlying layers containing such regions/junctions. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present invention is defined only by the appended claims and equivalents thereof.
In accordance with the present invention, foamed polynorbornene material is utilized as an insulating material within an integrated circuit (IC). Polynorbornene materials as disclosed herein exhibit a tendency to flow more readily than non-polymeric materials, making their application much easier than, for example, ceramic materials.
The use of foamed polynorbornene material advantageously provides a lower dielectric constant insulating material within an integrated circuit relative to conventional silicon dioxide (SiO2). Foamed polynorbornene material combines the minimal dielectric constant of air, 1.0∈o, with the mechanical strength of the polynorbornene material. The polynorbornene material behaves as a matrix for porous structures containing air or other ambient gases. The lower dielectric constant of such foamed polynorbornene material allows its advantageous use in integrated circuits where capacitive coupling has typically been problematic. Foamed polynorbornene material provides relief for capacitive coupling problems.
Foamed polynorbornene material has many advantages. For example, unlike conventional SiO2, which has a dielectric constant of about 4.0∈o, and is used as the matrix in porous silica xerogel films, the polynorbornene matrix materials utilized in the porous insulating material of the various embodiments of the invention can have lower dielectric constants relative to that of SiO2. Thus, the resulting foamed polynorbornene material can have a potentially lower dielectric constant than that of a porous silica xerogel film, depending on the percentage of voids within the material.
Furthermore, for example, foamed polynorbornene materials are advantageously more ductile than many other materials, such as porous silica xerogel films. Ceramic matrix materials such as SiO2 used in porous silica xerogel film, are characterized by their lack of ductility. Foamed polynorbornene materials have a lesser tendency to crack and pull away from the substrate on which they are applied than do the counterpart porous silica xerogel films.
Foamed polynorbornene material of the various embodiments of the invention is advantageously utilized to insulate conductive layers, such as metal lines or other conductive runs, within an integrated circuit. Use of foamed polynorbornene materials as a metallization level insulating material generally assures that the material will not be subjected to high processing temperatures. Typically, at the metallization stage in the fabrication process, most of the high temperature steps have already occurred.
For the Avatrel™polynorbornene material (available from BFGoodrich, Cleveland, Ohio, USA), processing temperatures preferably do not exceed approximately 460° C. This polynorbornene material exhibits reasonable stability at approximately 300° C., having approximately 0.1-0.2% weight loss per hour isothermal, and moderate thermal stability at approximately 350° C., having approximately 2-3% weight loss per hour isothermal. However, the polynorbornene material exhibits a marked decrease in thermal stability above about 405° C. Accordingly, post-deposition processing temperatures for this material are preferably kept below about 405° C., more preferably kept below about 350° C. and even more preferably kept below about 300° C.
In order to form a foamed polynorbornene insulation layer in an integrated circuit, a polynorbornene material 110 is applied to the wafer or substrate 112, as illustrated in FIG. 1A. An associated primer may be used to aid curing of the polynorbornene polymeric material. Additives or modifiers may be incorporated in the polynorbornene material to alter physical properties or curing characteristics of the polynorbornene material.
A wide variety of methods are available for applying the polynorbornene material 110 to the substrate 112. For example, spin-on coating, spraying, and dipping may be utilized to apply a polynorbornene material to the substrate 112. Furthermore, a combination of such application techniques or any other techniques known to one skilled in the art may be used. The thickness of the layer of polynorbornene material 110, as indicated by arrow 114, is adjusted according to the desired thickness of the resulting foamed polynorbornene material, taking into account the foam expansion rate of the foaming process utilized. For example, the thickness of the layer of polynorbornene material may be in the range of about 0.1 microns to about 1.0 microns. The thickness of the resulting foamed polynorbornene material should be such that it provides adequate electrical insulation without preventing a decrease in the minimum achievable feature size of the integrated circuit. For many applications, a foamed polynorbornene material thickness of about 0.7 micron to about 2.1 microns is sufficient to provide adequate electrical insulation. Foamed polynorbornene thicknesses above 2.1 microns may be desirable where metal thicknesses above 2.0 microns are used. Such foamed polynorbornene thicknesses may range from about 0.2 microns up to about 10.0 microns or even more. Depending on the application, however, the thickness of the polynorbornene material 10 is adjusted according to these criteria and known methods for controlling the thickness of applied polynorbornene material 110 using those techniques. For example, when utilizing spin-on coating, the thickness can be varied by adjusting the rotational speed and/or the acceleration of the spinner.
After the polynorbornene material 110 is applied to the substrate 112, an optional low temperature bake can be performed to drive off most of the solvents which may be present in the polynorbornene material 110. Next, the polynorbornene material 110 is cured, if needed. Curing will refer to developing a large number of cross-links between polymer chains. Techniques for curing polymers are well known to one skilled in the art and any number of curing methods may be suitable for the processing described herein. For example, curing of polymers can include baking the polymers in a furnace (e.g., about a 350° C. to about a 500° C. furnace) or heating them on a hot plate. Curing may occur in response to exposure to visible or ultraviolet light. Curing may further include adding curing (e.g., cross-linking) agents to the polymer. For one embodiment, it is preferred to use a multiple step cure to increase effectiveness. For example, such a multiple step cure may include processing in the range of about 1001° C. to about 125° C. for about 10 minutes, about 250° C. for about 10 minutes, and followed by about 375° C. for about 20 minutes. It should be readily apparent to one skilled in the art that the times and temperatures may vary depending upon various factors, including the desired properties of the materials used, and that the present invention is in no manner limited to the illustrative multiple step cure presented above. Various multiple step curing methods may be suitable. For one embodiment, hot plate curing is used.
A supercritical fluid is then utilized to convert at least a portion of the polynorbornene material 110, as illustrated in
Preferably, the supercritical fluid is selected from the group of ammonia (NH3), an amine (NR3), an alcohol (ROH), water (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), a noble gas (e.g., He, Ne, Ar), a hydrogen halide (e.g., hydrofluoric acid (HF), hydrochloric acid (HCl), hydrobromic acid (HBr)), boron trichloride (BCl3), chlorine (Cl2), fluorine (F2), oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2), a hydrocarbon (e.g., dimethyl carbonate (CO(OCH3)2), methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8), ethylene (CH4), etc.), a fluorocarbon (e.g., CF4, C2F4, CH3F, etc.), hexafluoroacetylacetone (C5H2F6O2), and combinations thereof. Although these and other fluids may be used, it is preferable to have a fluid with a low critical pressure, preferably below about 100 atmospheres, and a low critical temperature of at or near room temperature. Further, it is preferred that the fluids be nontoxic and nonflammable. Likewise, the fluids should not degrade the properties of the polynorbornene material used. Most preferably, however, the supercritical fluid is CO2, due to the relatively inert nature of CO2, with respect to most polymeric materials. Furthermore, the critical temperature (about 31° C.) and critical pressure (about 7.38 MPa, 72.8 atm) of CO2 are relatively low. Thus, when CO2 is subjected to a combination of pressure and temperature above about 7.38 MPa (72.8 atm) and about 31° C., respectively, it is in the supercritical state.
The structure illustrated in
The foaming of the polynorbornene material 110 may be assisted by subjecting the material to thermal treatment, e.g., a temperature suitable for assisting the foaming process but below temperatures which may degrade the material. Further, the depressurization to ambient pressure is carried out at any suitable speed, but the depressurization must at least provide for conversion of the polynorbornene material 110 before substantial diffusion of the supercritical fluid out of the polynorbornene material 110 occurs. Foaming of the polynorbornene material 110 may occur over a short period of time. The period of time that it takes for the saturated polynorbornene material 110 to be completely foamed depends on the type and thickness of the polynorbornene material and the temperature/pressure difference between the processing chamber and ambient environment. The specific time, temperature and pressure combination used depends on the diffusion rate of the gas through the polymer and the thickness of the layer of polymer used. It should be readily apparent that other foaming techniques may be used in place of or in combination with that described herein in accordance with the present invention.
The foamed polynorbornene material 116, as illustrated in
The foamed polynorbornene material 116 can be patterned by conventional photolithography and etching processes, if desired. Such optional processing steps are illustrated in
A more specific use of the present invention is illustrated by way of
As illustrated in
As illustrated in
As illustrated in
To form the contact holes 248 and trenches 258, the structure illustrated in
Next, as illustrated in
Conductive layers as described above, with interposing foamed polynorbornene insulation, may advantageously be used in the fabrication of memory devices as one form of integrated circuit device. Examples of such uses of conductive layers include word lines for control of access transistors of memory cells, as well as digit lines for the coupling of the memory cell Input/Output circuitry. Such conductive layers may further be used for coupling the various elements of a memory device.
It will be understood that the above description of a DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) is intended to provide a general understanding of the memory and is not a complete description of all the elements and features of a DRAM. Further, the invention is equally applicable to any size and type of memory circuit and is not intended to be limited to the DRAM described above. Other alternative types of devices include SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) or Flash memories. Additionally, the DRAM could be a synchronous DRAM commonly referred to as SGRAM (Synchronous Graphics Random Access Memory), SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory), SDRAM II, and DDR SDRAM (Double Data Rate SDRAM), as well as Synchlink or Rambus DRAMs.
As recognized by those skilled in the art, memory devices of the type described herein are generally fabricated as an integrated circuit containing a variety of semiconductor devices. The integrated circuit is supported by a substrate. Integrated circuits are typically repeated multiple times on each substrate. The substrate is further processed to separate the integrated circuits into dies as is well known in the art.
With reference to
A semiconductor wafer will typically contain a repeated pattern of such dies containing the same functionality. Die 710 may contain circuitry for the inventive memory device, as discussed above. Die 710 may further contain additional circuitry to extend to such complex devices as a monolithic processor with multiple functionality. Die 710 is typically packaged in a protective casing (not shown) with leads extending therefrom (not shown) providing access to the circuitry of the die for unilateral or bilateral communication and control.
As shown in
Some examples of a circuit module include memory modules, device drivers, power modules, communication modems, processor modules and application-specific modules and may include multilayer, multichip modules. Circuit module 800 may be a subcomponent of a variety of electronic systems, such as a clock, a television, a cell phone, a personal computer, an automobile, an industrial control system, an aircraft and others. Circuit module 800 will have a variety of leads 810 extending therefrom and coupled to the dies 710 providing unilateral or bilateral communication and control.
Methods of providing foamed polynorbornene insulating material for use with an integrated circuit device have been disclosed, as well as apparatus and systems making use of such foamed polynorbornene insulating materials. The methods include forming a layer of polynorbornene material and converting at least a portion of the layer of polynorbornene material to a foamed polynorbornene material, such as by exposing the layer of polynorbornene material to a supercritical fluid. The foamed polynorbornene material can provide electrical insulation between conductive layers of the integrated circuit device.
Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any arrangement which is calculated to achieve the same purpose may be substituted for the specific embodiments shown. Many adaptations of the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, the foamed polynorbornene material of the present invention can be utilized as an interlayer dielectric insulating material where the metal lines are formed by a variety of methods. This includes single damascene metallization and conventional (i.e., non-damascene) metallization techniques. Furthermore, the foamed polynorbornene material can be utilized anywhere an electrical insulation material is needed, so long as the polynorbornene material is stable at the temperatures that it will subsequently be subjected to. A wide variety of other uses are also suitable for use of the present invention. For example, the present invention is also suitable for forming capacitors having a foamed polynorbornene material dielectric layer therein.
It is not necessary that all polynorbornene material within an integrated circuit be converted to foamed polynorbornene material in accordance with the present invention. It is only necessary to convert a portion of the polynorbornene material to the foamed polynorbornene material to obtain advantages of the various embodiments of the invention. Furthermore, foamed polynorbornene material of the various embodiments of the invention can be utilized in conjunction with other insulating material(s). For example, adjacent layers of foamed polynorbornene material and silicon dioxide insulating material can be utilized in regions of an integrated circuit where different electrical isolation is desired.
Accordingly, this application is intended to cover any adaptations or variations of the invention. It is manifestly intended that this invention be limited only by the following claims and equivalents thereof.
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|U.S. Classification||438/623, 257/E21.661, 438/781, 438/780, 257/E23.167, 257/E21.259, 257/E21.273, 257/E21.654, 257/E23.132|
|International Classification||H01L23/31, H01L21/316, H01L23/532, H01L21/8242, H01L21/8244, H01L21/312|
|Cooperative Classification||H01L27/11, H01L21/31695, H01L2924/19041, H01L23/5329, H01L27/1052, H01L21/312, H01L23/5222, H01L23/3171, H01L27/105, H01L21/7682, C08L65/00, H01L27/10873, H01L2924/0002|
|European Classification||H01L27/105, H01L21/768B6, C08L65/00, H01L23/31P6, H01L21/312, H01L23/532N|
|Feb 22, 2000||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MICRON TECHNOLOGY, INC., IDAHO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:FARRAR, PAUL A.;REEL/FRAME:010626/0772
Effective date: 20000211
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